The Chalkboard: Leeds have to hope Derby clinch sixth spot ahead of Middlesbrough

With Leeds United seemingly heading towards the play-offs their eyes will be on their potential opponents in the semi-finals.

Sixth place is all to play for meaning that Bristol City, Derby County or Middlesbrough are now Leeds’ most likely opponents should they finish third.

The Rams are vulnerable.

United have hammered Derby in both of their meetings so far this season with the Whites running out 4-1 winners at Pride Park and 2-0 winners at Elland Road.

The 2-0 scoreline doesn’t tell the full story of that meeting in Yorkshire earlier this year however.

The Whites were dominant against the Rams in that game, not allowing Frank Lampard’s side to have a sniff at goal for the full 90 minutes.

Marcelo Bielsa’s side’s most famous run-in with Derby this season happened off the pitch. The spygate scandal sparked a war of words between the two managers and that may work in the Yorkshire club’s favour heading into the play-offs.

Lampard’s ability to deal with his rivals has to be questioned. Spygate affected the former Chelsea midfielder and when you factor in the stress of the play-offs and the fact it is the 40-year-old’s first season in management, you have to wonder whether or not he is up to the task of toppling the Argentine.

Leeds’ nightmare opponents

Tony Pulis has all the tools in his arsenal to frustrate Bielsa and his side.

Leeds haven’t beaten Boro in either of their meetings so far this season, and that is in part due to Pulis’ team’s defensive resilience.

The Whites have been wasteful in front of goal all season and the fact that Middlesbrough will limit the chances they get to have a sight of goal won’t help their cause.

The Yorkshire club have averaged 16.8 shots per game this season over 44 games and with 70 goals scored that means their conversion percentage stands at just 10.56%.

A rate that low will have to improve against one of the sturdiest defences in the league if they are to find a breakthrough.

Darren Randolph between the sticks will also prove a tough task for United. The Irish keeper was picked for the PFA’s Championship Team of the Year meaning that any shots that Leeds’ frontline manage to get off will have to be of high quality if they are to beat him.